MSM 144 NMSA 2010: PLC’s, Listener Question & Adolescent Thinkers


The doorbell rang, and the lady of the house discovered a workman, complete with tool chest, at the front door. “Lady,” he announced, “I’m the piano tuner.” The lady exclaimed, “Why, I didn’t send for a piano tuner.” The man replied, “I know, but your neighbors did.”

A teacher said to her student, “Billy, if both of your parents were born in 1967, how old are they now?” After a few moments, Billy answered, “It depends.” “It depends on what?” she asked. “It depends on whether you ask my father or my mother.”

When the Smith family moved into their new house, a visiting grandparent asked five-year-old Tommy how he liked the new place. “It’s great,” he said. “I have my own room, Alex has his own room, and Jamie has her own room. But poor mom is still in with dad.”

Mary goes to her first show at an art gallery and is looking at the paintings. One is a huge canvas that has black with yellow blobs of paint splattered all over it. The next painting is a murky gray color that has drips of purple paint streaked across it. Mary walks over to the artist and says, “I don’t understand your paintings.” “I paint what I feel inside me,” explains the artist. “Have you ever tried Alka-Seltzer?”

On Our Mind:

NMSA 2010 Conference

From the Audience:

Guys-  I have just recently started to listen to your podcasts and follow you on Twitter.  I am impressed and look forward to learning from the networking.  I am a middle school principal in Lowell, Indiana.  I need some help with a couple of things.  First,  it is a Science adoption year here in Indiana and I need help locating quality digital resources for adoption instead of textbooks.  Do you guys know of any that I could research.  Second,  I am interested in Second Life and how you guys use this web tool.

Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or

Cell Phones, iPods and energy. What do your students need to know?


Have your students take a short quiz on World Hunger. You could have the students take the quiz collaboratively, or take it yourself first, then give it to the students. Good discussion topics. Plus a donation is made every time someone takes the quiz.

From the Twitterverse:

*ransomtech ✜ Stephen Ransom Gr8 screencasting tool on Mac!! RT @ScreenFlow: #BlackFriday is here! 15% off ScreenFlow thru end of November 🙂
*brasst Tami Brass Connect Safely |A Parents’ Guide to Facebook | Safety Advice Articles via @Diigo
*rkiker How I Planned a Successful Unconference in 6 hours – and You Can Too #edchat #edcamp
*kevcreutz Seven Ways to Build Your Own Educational Games #edtech
kconners09 RT @DanielPink: An inspired school principal (@L_Hilt) tries a FedEx Day for her teachers. Fantastic.
*shannonmmiller 10 Terrific iPhone and iPad Musical Performances @johnccarver
* drmmtatom Twitter Rubric: #fhucid
* jeanbont #pun outside class door today: “My arm!”, said Captain Hook, offhandedly.
*maggiecary When Your Child’s Grades are Failing:

This Part for Infamous40000 . . . :
Waiting to hear back from Infamous40000 . . .

NSMA 2010 Session 3:

Session 3

Professional Learning Communities

Making a School Great: Professional Learning Communities


  • A program
  • A package of reforms to be adopted
  • A step-by-step recipe for change
  • A sure fire system borrowed by another school
  • One more thing to add to an already cluttered school agenda

The research says that we take on the characteristics of the students we teach.

•Standards based (Learning Targets)

Early success breeds Hope.

Covey’s concept of Sphere of Influence.  Sphere of control is where we need to operate.

Collaboration leads to taking out the walls.

Professional Development:

  • Research Based
  • Center around principles
  • BS or BA (Borrow straight or Borrow adjusted)

True Colors

Adults do not learn from experience, they learn from reflection. J. Mezirow
Must build reflection into the PD experience.

The starting of the PLC:

  • Pacing Guides – Calendar
  • Academic vocabulary
  • Writing prompts

Led to:

  • Pre/Post tests
  • Summative assessments

Instructional Focus
Formative assessment
Metacognition (Think alouds)
Prior Knowledge

  • Foundation
  • Scaffolding

Collaboration is the key.

Starting collaboration:
Grade level;
2 collaborative sessions  required per 9 weeks. There was form for follow up.
The next year, 1 was required. The third year, no mention. The idea was to integrate it into what they do.
Special education started getting involved. The special ed teachers gave some ideas for accommodations.

Common planning for departments. Started vertical articulation. This lead to similarities being identified. Identified overlap of standards.
Developed a 2 year plan. Language Arts teachers decided to “loop”. (5th & 6th and 6th & 7th grades.).
Cross curricular

  • writing prompts
  • Sharing ideas

Leads to Differentiation as well.
Leadership Team

  • How did it begin?
  • What does it look like now?

The leadership team takes issues to the principal. Makes sure that all teachers have a voice.

Reading became the focus of the school.
Reading became the common core.

First Step:

  • Scripted
  • Starts with the basics
  • Progresses through levels
  • Remarkable progress


  • Researched reading strategies
  • School wide:
  • Word Walls
  • Book Walks
  • Anticipation Guides
  • Anticipation Guides
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Think-Alouds
  • QAR

Sphere of Influence.

ICU – Intensive Care Unit
Exploratory Math labs, Lit labs
Saturday School
Summer school

ICU questions. All students are listed on Google Docs. Students who have issues are marked and followed up by everyone (eg. student missing homework).

  • Who do you owe?
  • What do you owe?
  • What do you need?
  • How can I help you?

Every teacher has to make 3 parents calls a week. At least 1 must be positive.
Celebrations at card marking

  • Movies
  • Baseball game
  • Bowling


NMSA 2010:  Developing Adolescent Thinkers

SoundNote Recording created November 4, 2010 12:30 PM:

Pink folder on table and name tag.  Types of development paper to share.

This we Believe
“For middle school students to be successful, the school’s organization, curriculum, pedagogy and programs must be based on the developmental readiness, needs and interests of young adolescent learners.”
We need to staff our middle schools with experts in teaching middle school kids.


•  Identify the characteristics of the adolescent learner

•  Explain the instructional implications for adolescents based on their brain development.

•  Articulate how the selection of instructional ….
Characteristics of the Adolescent Learner:  Step One
Step one

•  Draw 2-3 strips from the envelope.

•  Sort the characteristics by the categories on the placemat.

Step two

•  Look at the hot pink paper and discuss.

•  Consult the document titled “Characteristics of Adolescent Learners.”

•  Examine how the characteristics were sorted.

•  Compare your lists to one we have provided.

Implications for learning
What implications does the information on the characteristics of the adolescent learner handout have for planning and instruction based on your role in your school district?
I need to incorporate those characteristics into my teaching to support their learning.
Why is rigor important and why does it matter?

•  Review your rigor placement.

•  Define Rigor:

International competitiveness.
Teaching with the end in mind.
Using thinking based learning.
Green Handout:  Rigorous Instruction in the middle school
Triangle image on the page.

1.  Explicit opportunities for critical thinking

2.  Selection of rigorous instructional materials

3.  Appropriately matched and differentiated instructional strategies.
Application activity:
Toni Morrison’s The Big Box
Chosen for an adult audience in a conference setting.
This is an illustration for use around the triangle.

1.  Listen to and look at the Big Box.

2.  With your table mates, revisit the text with the elements of reasoning.

3.  Be prepared to share your assignment element(s).

How did this experience motivate and engage you?
Rigor selection process.

Provocative:  To what extent is the curriculum concerned with the central problems in the discipline that challenge students’ previous concepts?

Ambiguous:  To what extent does the curriculum focus on cymbals and images paced with multiple meanings?

Complex:  To what extent is the curriculum organized around complex, interrelated concepts?

Emotional:  To what extent is the curriculum …

(Lilac paper)

Ambiguous:  forced us to interpret

Emotional:  there were things there that each reader can identify with.

Provacative:  Things to defend or discuss vigorously.


PACE and the Big Box.
Implications for planning and instruction
What implications do the definition and measure of rigor (PACE) have for planning and instruction based on your role in your school district?
Engaging the students in something worthy of their time.
The elements of thought:  The Reasoning Wheel
Richard Paul and Linda Elders model.

1.  Points of view

2.  Purpose of the thinking

3.  Question at issue

4.  Information

5.  Interpretation and inference

6.  Concepts

7.  Assumptions

8.  Implications and consequences

Am I critical thinker?

Implications:  things that might happen

Consequences:  Things that will happen.


How would this model support their learning and help ensure rigorous instruction?
Adolescent Brain Development
Emotions??  Highly developed …
Reasoning and reflection?
Under construction …
(Until early or mid-twenties)
Developmental Rates
Significant growth occurs in the adolescent similar to childhood growth.
As those synapses are growing, we need to use them or lose them.
The stronger the relationship between the student and the teacher, the better the ability to set emotions aside and learn.
Prune the students to direct their energy to where it should go and strengthen the core of the tree/student.
Which neuron provides the greater potential for connection?
What students are asked to think about and what they’re asked to do determines the level of neuron they have.
Neuron develops on feedback and challlenge.
Challenge:  problem solving, critical thinking, relevant projects, complex materials.
Feedback:  Exemplars, connected to clear standards and criteria, various forms, timely, opportunity to use it.

Sense and Meaning
Long term memory:  retrieving information
Sense:  comprehension, I understand it, it makes sense.  Until it makes sense, it’s not stored.
Meaning:  Relevance-I can connect it to something else I know.  No connection = no meaning.
“Of the two, meaning has the greater impact on the probablily that the information will be stored.”  -Sousa
Implications for planning and instruction:  What implications does the information on the adolescent brain have for planning and instruction based on your role in your school district?

Rigorous Instructional Practices

•  The content refers to WHAT students will learn.

•  The process refers to HOW students will learn or explore the content.

•  The product is the EVIDENCE of student learning.

Implications for planning and instruction
What do I now have to consider in order to successfully develop adolescent thinkers?
CEU Code:  UN8


Thanksgiving Sites

What Really Happened?
A comparison of Thanksgiving stories:


7 Ways to build your own games

Purpose Games
What 2 Learn
YoYo Games
Jeopardy Labs
ProProfs Brain Games

Students, Ownership and Creativity: 35 Resources

Events & Happenings:

Calendar of Events:

NMSA News:

Other News:

  • ISTE Eduverse Talks are the recorded sessions held on ISTE Island every week. Join ISTE in their Second Life conference location for their weekly talks on education.
    • The ISTE Special Interest Group:  Virtual Environments is holding meetings on Mondays from 4:00 – 6:00 pm (SLT) on ISTE Island.
  • The Ohio Middle Level Association will hold their annual conference February 17 – 18, 2011.
  • Second Life:
    • Regular Tuesday meetings are scheduled. See the board on the ISTE Island for up to the minute details.  Check frequently this week as the ISTE Annual Convention is this week.
    • Video: Educational Uses of Second Life